ULEZ - The Crippling Realisation

London's latest money churner is expanding its boundaries and it's going to hit a lot of people. Hard.

4w ago


London always continues to adapt its transport infrastructure. Whether it be Cycleways, bus lanes or expanding its underground network, London will always push the envelope with consideration to moving its people around efficiently. However, not all parties are always met with this consideration.

I am of course, talking about cars. London's drivers haven't been met with the same courtesy as other methods of travelling within the countries capital. The favour has always leant toward public transportation. The aforementioned investments in to the transport network are certainly much needed. However, to drive the message home, London's car drivers are whipped with the proverbial stick, to deter them from using their much loved vehicles in the capital. I of course refer to the Congestion Charge and its new friend; the ULEZ charge.

Since 2003, Londoners have been forced to pay a fee to drive within the Congestion Charge zone. A shock to most at the time, but something the drivers of London have become accustom to for over seventeen years now. Drivers begrudgingly part way with a daily fee of £11.50* should they wish to drive around the capital during the hours of 07:00 til 18:00* (except of course on Christmas Day! How generous).

As someone who lives in London, I failed to see the impact this charge had on drivers. By this, I mean it did little to discourage drivers from entering the capital during peak hours. Traffic was still nose-to-nose in most areas within the zone. The Blackwall Tunnel still teeming with drivers making their way in to the city. There was an overwhelming message being told by London's drivers. The necessity to drive in the capital was so great, people would pay the charge regardless.

It is with this sobering message, that I honestly believe Transport for London got their idea to implement the ULEZ charge. The ULEZ charge is largely similar to the Congestion Charge, in terms of its geographical impact. Covering the same area as the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ charge applies only to certain vehicles, but is a fee applicable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The vehicles in which it affects, are those not compliant with Euro 4 emission standards for petrol cars and Euro 6 for diesel. Should your vehicle not be compliant, you're met with a £12.50* charge per day. To put this in to context, if you were unfortunate enough to drive within the zone, during the Congestion Charge operational hours, you'd be met with a whopping £24.00* charge for a days worth of driving in London.

These levies put in place by those that govern the roads of London, namely Transport for London, are nothing more than advantage taking. The exercise put in place via the Congestion Charge were a test of the willingness by drivers. The ULEZ charge gives an opportunity to further ramp up income in the capital. You could believe the emission promotion, as to the reasoning for these charges. I, for one, find it skeptical to believe charges can be applied to vehicles that produce low Co2 emissions and thus reduce the road tax they pay (I refer to certain diesels in my example), yet conveniently Transport for London choose another emission to measure when applying their standards.

Unfortunately, the spread of this ludicrous charge won't be limited to central London. In October of 2021, the ULEZ charge will launch itself to a wider community. The charge will become applicable to anybody driving inside the North/South Circular. A worryingly large expansion. It will be a cause for concern for many. Given London is a stupidly expensive city to live in, this additional charge for drivers in the capital has many livid.

The ULEZ expansion zone, from October 2021

The ULEZ expansion zone, from October 2021

The hatred towards this charge, is the somewhat confusion over cars bought some ten to fifteen years ago. Diesel cars in particular. Diesel was promoted as the more efficient fuel. Diesel cars would produce more miles to the gallon. Diesel cars would generally be perceived to last a hell of a lot longer that their petrol counterparts. It was the sensible choice for some drivers. Not to mention the tax savings based on their Co2 emissions. Now, a charge has seemingly come from the 'boffins' at TfL and decided these vehicles are a 'threat' to the London environment. A 'threat' that will now warrant a daily £12.50* charge should you enter, or indeed live, in this zone. And that is one heck of a zone.

So what can the population of London do to avoid such a charge? Buy a petrol alternative? (as long as it is compliant). Buy a newer diesel? Sure. Why not? Because we can all afford newer cars these days, especially living in London. Some manufacturers offer a 'Scrappage Scheme', but these are generally geared towards buying a new car from them. The likely scenario for most is panic selling their cars, getting far less than they're worth and having to 'make-do' with buying a compliant car, as opposed to one they desire.

It's a worrying time for drivers in London, particularly if their car is affected by the upcoming changes. Not to mention the surrounding areas and those that are required to commute in to the zone. Transport for London are certainly rubbing their hands together at the prospect of the future income that will be received as a result. However, families across the capital are certainly feeling forced, now more so than ever, to frantically buy a compliant car.

With thoughts on how to fund and replace a now 'dangerous' car, who needs a pandemic?

*Prices and hours are pre-COVID.

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Comments (18)

  • I’ve worked in London all my life. I have lived in the south of London and let me tell you that even though London claims to have this wonderful transport network, it doesn’t always extend to weekends and public holidays. I worked 12 hour shifts in central London (days and nights) and the only time I could get to work for 07:00 on a Sunday morning is drive. The London mayor has always assumed that people who work in London, live in London (and do a Monday to Friday 09:00-17:00 job) because the network is completely different after business hours.

    Same principle applies to bank holidays. I always drove because the transportation system didn’t cover my working hours. Now the congestion charge has increased in price as well as the time frame, I fear the worst for a lot of businesses in London.

      27 days ago
  • It’s a government money making scheme and definitely taking advantage. With the pandemic and more people working from home, who is going to pay to go into London when you don’t have to which will ultimately see businesses suffer.

    I don’t live in London and don’t really care however if it paves the way (wrongly) for other localities to charge (to make money) then that’s a problem, especially as there aren’t viable alternatives.

    The fundamental skewed problem is that cars provide so much tax revenue for the government which fund other things that in the age of lower emission cars tax take is going down and therefore something has to go up. Emissions on cars is however just an excuse and yet another flawed government initiative. Take all the ICE cars off the road and watch electric cars tax take go up.

    Downward spiral!

      27 days ago
    • It's not the government 'making' the money, it's the London mayor.

        26 days ago
    • Yep, understand that from the congestion charge however was on a rant about tax which is central government.

        26 days ago
  • If they want to limit traffic, they would've actually done it instead of extorting money from motorists.

    In China, the number of new cars being registered in mega cities every year is strictly limited; some important passages limit the traffic by number plates (i.e: Wuhan No.1 Yangtze River Bridge, license plates ending with odd number can only pass on odd-number dates, and vice versa); commercial trucks are not allowed in city at daytime; scrapping old cars are mandatory; AND public transportation in big cities is consistent at all time and always superior than driving.

      27 days ago
  • Just an excuse to tax motorists. And so clumsily implemented that it affects those who can least afford it, most.

    Lord Sugar isn't going to miss £25 to drive his Phantom into London. But for a self employed courier using his/her own car for the job, the impact will be massive.

      27 days ago
  • I’ve no family in London anymore so f**k em.

    I can’t stand London, this will just prevent people going and affect business

      27 days ago